I wont give the name of the company, but here's a quote from a white paper they published:

Our innovative Polymorphic Key Progression Algorithm (PKPA) technology is designed to overcome the flaws and inadequacies associated with today’s encryption algorithms.

I know enough about crypto to be dangerous, but my thoughts are that this is a technology that is trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist. They cite numerous hacks, but am I wrong in assuming that such hacks are very seldom the result of the crypto technology, and instead usually the result of someone leaving the keys in the car?


2 Answers 2


Sounds like snake oil for me.
The phrase you cite can be easily googled and tracked back to a white paper by CipherLoc in which they suggest that AES can be broken by using frequency analysis of english text when reusing the same encryption key for many inputs. In their explanation they deliberately ignore the role of a random IV with AES which should make such attacks infeasible. And their "solution" against this is this "PKPA" thing which somehow scrambles the data before encryption to make such frequency analysis impossible. Apart from that this is not intended to replace AES but instead used additionally to it.


I agree with Steffen Ullrich's answer that this is snake oil and that a random IV would solve this problem. Just to add on to to his answer, the paper makes a number of misleading or outright false claims.

They say on page 2 that

However, with the rapid advances in computing horsepower continuing, it was clear that the era of DES (and 3DES) encryption was coming to a close and a new way to secure data was needed.

This is only partially correct. DES was vulnerable to brute force attacks, but not 3DES. 3DES is still secure when properly implemented, but has fallen out of favor for its high complexity and extremely poor performance.

However, with the passage of time, even AES has become susceptible to the massive amounts of computing horsepower available in today’s world and the increasing sophistication of cyber criminals

Complete nonsense. AES is perfectly fine when properly implemented with a mode of operation appropriate for the use case. No currently known attacks on AES are feasible.

About the 3 different key sizes, they say the following:

Interestingly, the fact that the standard supports increasingly large key sizes was perhaps an early indication that the security may not be entirely scalable – i.e. if AES security was stable, then no change in key size should in fact be required.

The key size requirements were made by NIST before the AES competition concluded. They have nothing to do with concern over Rijndael; any cipher that won would have those 3 key sizes. Furthermore, this has more to do with the fact that it was a government competition, and the government thinks in terms of "security levels". The thought was you would have a fast, lower security version (AES-128); a medium performance, medium security version (AES-192); and a lower performance, high security version (AES-256). In reality, they're all fast, they're all secure, and there's no reason to split hairs unless you're worried about quantum computing, in which case you'd pick AES-192 or AES-256. See this answer by Thomas Pornin.

After totally ignoring the role of the IV as mentioned above, they go on to suggest something a bit absurd:

As a further protection, it is also possible to use different encryption algorithms for each segment of data to be secured. For example, segment A could use AES-256, segment B could use Blowfish, segment C could use 3DES, etc. In fact, each segment of data could then be further re-encrypted dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of times. This is one of the characteristics that makes CipherLoc’s technology very scalable. As hackers get more sophisticated and continue to have access to ever-increasing amounts of computing horsepower, our technology can be easily and quickly scaled to even greater levels of security through a variety of techniques including, but not limited to, massive amounts of re-encryption.

This solves nothing that properly applied AES does not already solve, while introducing an absolutely unfathomable amount of complexity. If you're using AES, the weaknesses in your system will not be your cipher. They will be side channel attacks, nonce reuse (if applicable), poor random number generators, fixed IVs, lousy KDFs, wrong modes of operation, lack of authentication, and plenty of other common vulnerabilities, all of which would apply anyway in this scheme. Furthermore, I shudder to think of the performance of a system that re-encrypts thousands upon thousands of times with multiple ciphers.

In summary, this scheme is unnecessary and the paper misleading (and that's being charitable).

  • $\begingroup$ One minor addendum: another issue that 3DES had was that it started to leak data about the plaintext after encrypting a few gigabytes (because of the 8 byte block size) $\endgroup$
    – poncho
    Dec 6, 2016 at 17:56
  • $\begingroup$ @poncho: for 3DES-CBC, and (I'm pretty sure) OFB if anyone still uses that. Not CTR, nor CTR-based modes like GCM CCM EAX. Of course for TLS specifically, 3DES is only used with CBC and all defined AEAD ciphersuites use AES or ARIA or Camellia. $\endgroup$ Dec 6, 2016 at 23:23
  • $\begingroup$ @dave_thompson_085 The implications are less catastrophic for CTR mode, but any $2b$-bit block cipher in CTR mode that is used to encrypt more than $2^b$ blocks of plaintext is still vulnerable to a distinguishing attack. $\endgroup$
    – Dennis
    Dec 7, 2016 at 4:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.